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  • novelistofbrands

On leaving England and the weirdness of nostalgia



In exactly 26 days and five hours, I’ll be 30,000ft in the air. Sky-riding my way to an entirely new life in an entirely new country.


My destination of choice?


Portugal.


You’d think this would have been a planned-out, thought-out kind of thing (the reality is a little more romantic and a whole lot more stupid than that).


Rewind to March 2022.


I was sitting in the pub with my boyfriend, thinking about my ‘forever’ with him.


I was excited. I was scared. I was drunk.


When suddenly - with no warning whatsoever - my boyfriend leaned across and whispered, “let’s move someplace sunny.”


Being drunk and in love and in no way sane, I agreed.


We got a globe, finger-spun it for a bit, and waited to see where our pinkies would land.


Greenland.


Not sunny.


We spun it again.


Norway.


Iceland.


Canada.


I kid you not, this globe had 195 different countries to land on, and the only destinations it was throwing us were ones with sub-arctic temperatures.


30 globe-spins later and finally, an ~actually~ sunny location popped up.


It was settled.


We were moving to… Portugal!


Fast forward five months and here we are - right now - surrounded by packing boxes and my slow-eating heartache.


Don’t get me wrong - I am beyond excited.


I’m going to surf. I’m going to reconnect with nature. I’m going to be a beach bum. I’m going to eat pastel-del-nata every day.


But I can’t but help feel a teensy weensy bit sad.


The kind of sad you get when you’re about to say goodbye to someone you love.


The kind of sad that creeps in suddenly and without warning.


I never thought I’d feel this way about leaving England - after all, it’s not my first home.


South Africa is.


But now that I’m leaving it for good, I’m starting to appreciate all its little quirks 10x more.


Its paper skies. Its hormonal weather changes. Its ‘rolling green hills’ landscape.


But more than that, I’m starting to realise how much I’ll miss completely odd things.


Things that - on the surface - look too ordinary and every day to ever be missed.


Things like the coffee shop down the road. The M&S store. The woman behind the counter in the M&S store. The farm shop. The road on the way to the farm shop.


And my flat.


Oh, my silly little flat.


I’ve grown so used to all its nooks and crannies and creaking noises at night. To the spider that lives in the hole in the wall. To the way the shower doesn’t sit straight. To the way the darkness scares me at night.


Why am I mourning such weird things?


I’ve been thinking about it for days - my attachment to all these ‘weird’ objects and people.


And then it struck me.


I’ve always attached memories and feelings to objects and people and places and things.


I did it when we got kicked out of the old family house when I was eight.


I did it when my first-ever boyfriend broke up with me - I remember.


I even wrote about it.


About how red-and-blue trains and tall glasses of white wine reminded me of him.


And now - as I’m getting ready to leave England - I’m attaching memories to things that I’ve gotten to know really well.


Things like my flat and the town I live in.


Looking at it like that, I guess you could say what I’ll really be mourning and missing is the familiarity of it all.


And I guess that’s not so weird after all.

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